Anger And Violence

Real Relationship Advice

We dam up rivers. We blow holes through mountains. We fill in holes. We dig out hills. We heat the cold and cool the hot. We control our environment to make us feel comfortable at all times. God forbid we feel anything but comfy. This is the premise behind anger management. Expressing anger is something to be controlled, clamped down and generally kept on the down low. The anger is mistaken for the violence. Let’s get this clear, ANGER IS NOT VIOLENCE! Sure, we can make an argument that violence is precipitated by anger but I can say the same for frustration, confusion, surprise or fear. Anger gets a bad rap and CoupleDumb is here to change that.

The feeling of anger is good. Anger tells you that you have been hurt and you don’t like it. Anger is the first feeling that signals that someone is coming out of depression. Anger can be internalized or externalized. Anger is ultimately a feeling of displeasure. This feeling of discomfort or dissatisfaction does not inherently harbor violence or hostility. We do not become murderous when we feel injured or displeased. Anger serves the purpose to identify a violation of boundaries and it helps you indentify your priorities.  We interact with the world constantly. Feelings of anger spring up throughout the day. Some things piss you off and other things don’t even register. Take note of what pisses you off and you will see it was associated with a boundary violation.

For example: I drove yesterday and the driver in the next lane swerved towards me. I felt angry with that driver.

That driver violated my boundaries. He violated my lane and thus I felt threatened and felt discomfort. A deeper way to say this is that I felt fear for my life. The fear response is fight or flight, or more scientifically, sympathetic or parasympathetic responses. These responses are as primal as we get. This is the live to see another day response; the survival of the fittest response. Without this, we would walk into traffic, not investigate that weird noise in the house or even have the biochemical protection that adrenaline and endorphins give you! This is the home of anger.

What we see manifested in society is not anger but violence. We react to threats with either a sympathetic or parasympathetic response. We either fight back or we run away. There are ways to deal with a sympathetic response without becoming violent. Those of us who default to a sympathetic response to a threat or boundary violation use our words; we scream, we insult we even threaten. Some people will find this reaction lacking if they feel very threatened and will ultimately strike out. Yes, most people who physically abuse others are doing it solely because they feel threatened (boundary violation). What we see is anger but what is being felt by the aggressor is fear.

Anger management has forever damaged the reputation of anger. Our anger is something good that should be expressed and embraced. Violence should never be tolerated in any form but if we are to curb it we must start calling out the real problem, the person’s fear response. Reacting to fear and threats is something we learn and is not an innate, standard response. Our fight response may be to stop the threat and only our learned behavior, or complete lack of frontal lobe (inhibition), will allow us to strike/harm another person.

Anger can fuel you to create a different life. Anger can motivate you to leave a harmful situation. Anger can lift you out of a depression. However, what anger does not do is give you permission to hurt anyone.


One comment

  • RachelFerrucci

    Great post. As an Italian we’re called hot-headed. When we’re mad you know it. As a family we yell and argue without violence and in the end we love each other and laugh over how loud we are.

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